Group picture of the 2015 German-Spanish Forum.

2015 German-Spanish Forum focuses on dual education system

Many young people in Spain are currently unemployed. The vocational education system successfully used in Germany, which offers both classroom instruction and on-the-job training, could help remedy that situation over the medium term. The twin-track system is just one of the topics being discussed on November 17 and 18 at the German-Spanish Forum in Berlin. Patrons for the event are King Felipe VI of Spain and German President Joachim Gauck.

Participants at the 2015 German-Spanish Forum are examining a number of topics, including education and employment opportunities in Germany and Spain, bilateral cooperation between the two countries and the issue of competitiveness in an age of digital technology. The forum is being held on November 17 and 18 in Berlin. The event's organizers are Banco Santander, the ICO Foundation and the Bertelsmann Stiftung.

Taking place this year for the eighth time, the German-Spanish Forum will bring together approximately 60 German and Spanish policymakers, business leaders and cultural representatives. King Felipe VI of Spain and German President Joachim Gauck are serving as patrons for the event. The Spanish monarch will be staying in the German capital while attending the forum.

Dual training system not yet established in Spain

The future is less than bright for more than 5.4 million young people in Europe, since they have neither a job nor a position in a vocational training program. As the Bertelsmann Stiftung's 2015 Social Justice Index shows, the number of 20 to 24-year-olds in Spain without a job or training position has risen from 16.6 to 24.8 percent, while in Italy it has gone from 21.6 to 32 percent.

To combat the high level of youth unemployment, three years ago Spain's legislators created the framework for a vocational training system that offers young people both classroom instruction and on-the-job experience. The response by Spain’s business community has, however, been limited at best: Only 18,000 young people – less than 5 percent of Spain's vocational training students – are being given the chance to work in a company while they attend a trade school, as a survey by the Bertelsmann Stiftung and the Spain-based Fundación Bertelsmann shows.

The system of dual education as it exists in Germany and Switzerland is seen as a key factor for ensuring low youth unemployment rates and an adequate supply of trained workers. Establishing such a system in Spain could help reduce the number of unemployed young people there. Background analysis has shown that companies benefit from offering training positions even while apprentices are still being trained. The system's positive impact becomes more pronounced over the medium and long term when businesses no longer have to implement costly programs for recruiting skilled labor.